Last Saturday I gave a talk called The Transformative Power of Compassion. I’d been reading about the five spiritual laws, a presentation of the five niyamas, and ended up using that model of the universe as context for talking about compassion and other Buddhist virtues. It might sound complicated, but I really like the model and find it helpful in my spiritual practice. I made a little handout for the talk, which I’ve copied below. Do listen to the talk though, the handout might not make much sense otherwise 🙂
After the talk we had a wonderful discussion on topics such as the fetters, and if it’s really possible to help someone. You can listen to both below.
Compassion and the Five Spiritual Laws
The five spiritual laws are an interpretation of the five niyamas, passed down to Dharmavidya by Kennett Roshi.
UTU NIYAMA: (non-living matter) The universe is not answerable to my personal will
BIJA NIYAMA: (living matter) Dependent origination
KAMMA NIYAMA: Karma is inexorable
DHAMMA NIYAMA: Good ultimately prevails
CITTA NIYAMA: (Heart/Mind) Longing springs eternal
In Buddhism compassion is most closely associated with Karuna which is the wish for the well-being of others. Karuna is one of the four divine abidings or four immeasurables, therefore it is outside of normal human calculation and unlimited (divine and immeasurable) .
Acting on Karuna, for the sake of others, has lots of benefits.
The giver and the recipient both receive something spiritual, as well as whatever material support is offered.
There is a reduction of selfishness, or when we find that we are unable to act on karuna, we are shown our selfishness, which is an opportunity for fellow-feeling and tenderness to arise, particularly when we realise that despite our failure we are still in receipt of the Buddha’s wish for our happiness, and nyorai’s blessing.
Listen to other teachings from Amida Mandala here: Audio Teachings